I read about the novel when the Rooster was going on. I’ve never read Marlon James before, but discussions on the book by Rooster’s judges and readers piqued my interest.
A Brief History Of seven Killings is literary fiction in the guise of a thriller without much of a plot and all of its characters busy doing something sinister, hideous and even ghastly. The setting is Jamaica mostly, but you get also a bit of US as the characters change their base.
The novel is full of violence, Jamaican style, from gangsters’ street -fighting to killing to rape to police atrocities. The country is portrayed as one without even a semblance of law and order anywhere. There’s no sane person or voice anywhere in the novel. All you find is a morbid and dreary literary landscape.
Despite this, it is an interesting rather than harrowing read. One reason might be that the novel is driven by different voices – first person accounts of all of its characters, though the voices sound more or less alike and barely distinguishable.
The characters are an interesting mix: gangster, drug lord, CIA man, diplomat, journalist, celebrity, call- girl, even someone who got killed. As you get to read their account, Jamaica emerges with some of its angst, deprivation and nuance. And though it’s more filmy than literary, I found it worth my time.